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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Saturday walk - Hastings to Winchelsea or Rye - one last summer walk by the sea?

Length: 19.8km (11.8 miles) to Rye, 17.1km (10.6 miles) to Winchelsea station, or 15km (9.3 miles) to Winchelsea New Inn (+ bus)

9.45 train from Charing Cross (9.48 Waterloo East, 9.54 London Bridge) to Hastings, arriving 11.19. T=2.29

If planning to come back by high speed train (see below), you can also go out by it by taking the 9.34 from St Pancras to Ashford, arriving 10.11 and changing there for the 10.24 Marshlink train to Hastings, arriving 11.06. As you can see this offers minimal time advantages over the direct train, however, and the two carriage Marshlink train can be hideously overcrowded in the summer months, though may be less so now we are into September.

Buy a day return to Winchelsea, unless using the high speed train outward, in which case a day return to Hastings is needed. Buy a ticket "plus high speed" if intending to use the high speed train on the way home - see below.

For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here.

One last summery walk by the sea? This walk over the cliffs from Hastings to Pett Level and then across the flatlands of Romney Marsh to the historic towns of Winchelsea and Rye needs no introduction to most of you. If you don't know it, it is one of the SWC's classic coastal walks. I would only observe that the diversionary route around Ecclesbourne Glen (where there was a landslip some years back) is best followed, even though it is not mentioned in the walk directions: the former path gets more difficult year on year, and is blockaded at either end by increasingly serious fences.

Your lunch stop is the Coastguards Tea Room: it does a range of meals as interesting and substantial as any pub. The Smugglers Inn in Pett Level is "permanently closed", according to Google.

For sea swimmers, the best opportunity is at Fairlight Glen, at the bottom of the next big valley after Ecclesbourne Glen. The unofficial path down to the beach here is your own risk, but is usually well-maintained by the naturists who use it. High tide is at 12.20, so there should be a good depth of water over the rocks when we arrive. Water temperatures are edging down a bit - 17.7 degrees is what it is saying at time of writing. A swim at Pett Level should be OK until about 4pm: after that underwater rocks can be a problem, though walking east along the beach may help.

For tea, the New Inn in Winchelsea usually has some cakes and tea in pots. You can end the walk here (after 9.3 miles) by taking the 100 bus. Or carry on another 1.3 miles to finish the walk at Winchelsea station (allow 40 minutes to walk it). Or carry on across flat marshes for another 2.5 miles from Winchelsea village to Rye.

Transport times for all these options:

Bus from Winchelsea, New Inn

- If returning on the high speed train, get the 49 past the hour from the stop on the same side of the road as the New Inn to Rye until 17.49, then 18.42 and 19.57. These buses all terminate at Rye station but annoyingly just miss the hourly trains:. However, 50 minutes to walk around Rye's pretty streets is no great hardship.

- If returning by normal trains, it is probably quicker to get 16.55 or 17.55 bus from the other side of the road outside the New Inn to Hastings. These take 33 minutes, giving you 22 minutes to connect with 50 past trains from Hastings, which take 1hr 44 minutes to Charing Cross: by this route it is 2hrs 39 minutes from Winchelsea village to London.

Trains back from Winchelsea 

- High speed option17.42 or 19.42  to Ashford, with a quick (6 minutes) change there for train to St Pancras: total journey time 1hr 12 minutes.

- Normal train option:
- 16.50 via Hastings (2hrs 14 minutes journey time)
17.42 via Ashford (arriving Ashford 18.10, changing there to the 18.32 to Charing Cross: 2 hrs 10 minutes journey time)
18.50 via Hastings (2 hrs 44 minutes journey time)
- 19.42 via Ashford (arriving Ashford 20.10, changing there to the 20.32 to Charing Cross: 2 hrs 10 minutes journey time)

Trains back from Rye 

47 past the hour to Ashford until 22.47: do NOT get the identically-timed train to Hastings by mistake: the Ashford trains are across the footbridge

- High speed: with a six minute change in Ashford you get to St Pancras 1hr 07 minutes after leaving Rye

- Normal train: a 20 minute change at Ashford to the 32 past train to Charing Cross (2hrs 05 minutes total journey time from Rye) or 33 past to Victoria (2 hrs 19 minutes total journey time: this train is only really useful if you live near Bromley South): The 20.47 is the last train from Rye to offer this connection. 


Walker said...

W=A-perfect-sunny-day. A day of golden light. Barely a breath of wind. Lovely warmth.

The only cloud in the sky was the inadequate two-car Marshlink train from Ashford to Hastings, which scuppered the outward journey of two high speed train-ers by being cancelled due to “lack of diesel”. A replacement bus was put on that was adequate for only half the train’s passengers. Our two simply waited an hour for the next train, though amazingly still managed to catch us up at lunch.

The 21 of us on the Charing Cross train had a peaceful journey down (so n=23 on the walk in total). Hastings was busy on arrival and we got a bit strung out. The group I was with did the diversionary route around Ecclesbourne Glen: I don’t know if anyone tried the path down into it.

Getting to Fairlight Glen at least eight of us went down to swim. It was high tide and the beach was a tiny pebble strip. The water was lovely - most declared it warmer than expected. For half an hour it was like being on a Greek island.

On to the Coastguards tea room, which was busy, but dealt uncomplainingly with the constant flow of orders. Stragglers caught us up here. Above the coastguard station itself (or whatever the building with a mast on is) about fifty house martins were diving and swooping through the air. Next stop Africa.

Walking on through Fairlight’s suburban streets there was another notable avian sight - a peacock perched on someone’s roof. Wild? A pet? We took a slightly more seaward route through the houses than usual, or perhaps we always go this way and I am just getting forgetful.

There had been some discussion about possible swims at Pett Level, but not only was the sea not high enough to cover the rocks to a sufficient depth - it was way way out beyond them. Three of us were mulling walking out over the sands to the sea anyway when we saw a family getting stuck in gloopy mud, causing us to give up the idea.

Probably just as well, as by the time we set off along the Military Canal the sun was already getting low (at 5.15pm!!). We got to the New Inn at 6pm and I had just ordered a calorific pudding to have in its garden when several people decided to have dinner. So I had lasagne and chips with a sticky toffee and custard starter. Don’t tell my dietician.

Opinion was split at this point between getting the 6.42 bus to Rye or walking to Winchelsea station for the 7.42 train. The latter walk was gorgeous, with a great golden sun dipping behind the horizon and then a glorious pink and gold afterglow. At Winchelsea station we met the bus crowd: the bus had not come and so they had set off to walk to the station instead, to be then overtaken by the bus.

All great walking days should end at a remote country station at dusk on a wonderful sunny day. But sadly this one was marred by worry about the Marshlink train being late, meaning we would miss the connection to the high speed train at Ashford. And therefore connect with the direct train from Margate instead, which had been standing room only back in the summer. When the Marshlink train did finally come it was full, not a few of its passengers being some of the group who had walked to Rye, found their Ashford train cancelled, taken the train back to Hastings instead, and then mysteriously decided not to get the Charing Cross train from there but to get the Marshlink back to Ashford. Sadly the train was too crowded for me to get the full story here, so if anyone wants to give a fuller account, please do.

At Ashford I delayed the group by suggesting we might get the Charing Cross train to avoid the possibly crowded Margate train, and while discussing this failed to notice that our original connecting high speed train was late and was about to pull into platform 5. By the time I realised my mistake, we missed it by seconds despite a dash through the underpass. We then waited 20 minutes (“just over ten minutes” in station announcer speak) for the train from Margate, which was actually not ridiculously busy. We hope those that got the Charing Cross train also had a trouble free journey.

Brian said...

A gorgeous day, as walker says. The walk over Hastings Country Park was a bit like Hampton Court maze in places, and the instructions out of date, but we made it. After the swimmers peeled off at Fairlight Glen n=6 of us pushed on, n=2 faster than the others (for a swim at Pett Level perhaps?)leaving n=4 to refresh at the Beach Club (temporary membership £1 if you want to buy alcohol) and then on via the Royal Military Canal towards Winchelsea where I diverted from the route and walked, alone, over the levels to Camber Castle (Cloudesley Castle in Monica Edwards' books - anyone remember her?) which glowed lustrously in the late afternoon sun. An ambition achieved, on to Rye and a pint at the Cinque Port Arms before catching the 17.47 to Hastings.